Monday, December 1, 2008

Know thy self


Words to live by....so my figs painting burnt me out. Not that I may not come back to it but it makes me sick to look at it for the moment.
Last year I had an open house at the McGuffey Art Center with all sorts of food and wine and it was fun while it lasted. Less to participate in McGuffey's annual open house, it was more of an opportunity for family and friends to come see my new studio. After it was all over and I was scrubbing punch and candy off the floor, I thought to myself that I would not be doing this again next year. Haha. So, I will be participating in McGuffey's open house but instead of having food I will be displaying all my artworks and hopping to jazz the place up (as much as possible anyways) to look like a small gallery. I will be doing a Japanese Woodblock Printing demo from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. People usually don't know anything about printmaking and this would definitely be a treat for them to see what Moku Hanga entails.
I subscribe to a few magazines because I enjoy their aesthetic for the most part. Two of my favorites are Country Living and Domino and one of them recently featured an article on persimmons that focused on a local industry here in Nelson County, VA called Edible Landscaping. Trouble is I can't remember which one. At any rate, the graphics done for the article were beautiful and they shot some asian persimmons resting on some geometric textiles. I was struck by the beauty of the calyx on the fruit. The leafy area around the stem of a fruit is usually not noteworthy but the beautiful wooden flower that rims the persimmon is quite attractive. Because we have a indigenous species of persimmon here in Virginia and because I am in love with Islamic art and architecture, I thought this would be a perfect print for the opening. It was until I lost the article.
Confident that I needed the article in order to complete my "perfect" design, I set the project aside and set about designing a new print. I wanted to illustrate to people that for Moku Hanga the completed image (painting) comes first. (Know thy self!) This was not my process so of course I got bored with my fig FAST! For me, unless I really need to know what is going down for registration, I normally sketch something then carve it and figure out the colors later. I usually do paintings as a way to get instant gratification and to relax. I normally do not get the urge to make a print run for a painting. In fact, for the Book of Life project, I am making some paintings as a tool for color block orientation. So the intention of a print is driving the creation of a painting not vice versa. While taking yet another break from from painting the blasted fig, I leafed through one of my Domino magazines and an article on quatrefoils popped up. My mind was made up at that moment that I was going to do a persimmon print come hell or high water!

With the help of Google I found some native virginia persimmons to sketch and sat down with a ruler and compass and fiddled around with some geometrical designs. I whipped it into my scanner, flipped it backwards in photoshop, viola! I carved the persimmon key yesterday. There will be five blocks and one or two bokashi on the fruit. Today I'm waiting for some mulberry to soak up water to pull the registration proofs for colors. I don't have the heart to erase my measure marks. They look like stained glass so I think I will leave them.

Okay, so as always there is a danger of cutting oneself but I must admit I take a little pride in this one. I have a large shallow U-gouge I use for clearing that I had bought from McClain's a few years back. There is a metal ferrule at the end for a mallet but my block was so small and made of shina I figured I could just push it through. It was like putting a hot knife in butter! At one point, I had the knife in the wood with one hand and I stopped to pull my shirt collar out. As I held the knife forward, I drew my hand back to grab my collar and my finger slid over the top corner of the knife. I didn't feel any pain but as I continued to carve my finger started to itch. I checked and sure enough I had accidentally cut myself. No biggie but I am proud that after years of care my blade is still surgically sharp!

2 comments:

Annie B said...

The block up top there is beautiful! You do nice clean carving. Sorry to hear that you nicked yourself. I did the same thing while teaching a workshop a couple of weeks ago! How embarrassing.

Pistoles Press said...

Don't you love those moments? It's no biggie when I nick myself because it's bound to happen every once and again. I did have a defining moment though when I was in undergrad. I was supervising a class as a lab tech for my professor when she got caught in traffic. I was helping this girl bind a book when the phone rang in the studio. It was my professor and she was updating me about how long it would take her to get to the building. I was talking and not paying attention when I was helping this girl bore holes in her book board with an awl. Our professional grade book binding awl was so sharp and agile that it bore right through the board and right through the meat of my palm. The girl I was helping gasped like she'd just seen a beheading and everyone turned around to see me with this awl through my hand. All I could say at the time was "Wow, that was stupid. Yeah, everybody don't do that." Duh.